Univ Dates: 2006-2010

Degree: BA Law with Law Studies in Europe (France)

Degree Level: Undergraduate

Occupation: Attorney specialising in International Arbitration (New York, N.Y.)

Biography: Mark Stadnyk, a native Texan, completed a BA in Law at Univ (2006-2010). At Univ, Mark played violin in various college and university orchestras, performing with student ensembles at College, across Oxfordshire, in Vienna, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He spent one year of his undergraduate studies on exchange at the Université de Paris II: Panthéon-Assas. After his undergraduate studies, Mark completed a LL.M. in U.S. and international law at Harvard Law School (2010-2011). Since qualifying to the New York Bar (2012), Mark has practiced international commercial arbitration and investor-state (treaty) arbitration in France, Texas, and now New York. He works as counsel in a wide range of energy disputes arising out of the Middle East, Latin America, and North America. He also coaches international arbitration moot teams at Harvard Law School and the American University of Afghanistan.


What were your preconceptions of Oxford or Univ before you started here?

I benefited from the mentorship of a Univ Old Member, Mr Jack Hurst, then teaching in Houston, so I fortunately knew what to expect, at least generally. I anticipated two major differences from the U.S. undergraduate system: first, a focus in depth on my chosen subject, rather than a broader review of distinct subjects in lesser detail; and second, study in tutorials, rather than larger groups or lectures. Both drew me to Oxford over U.S. universities. I picked Univ in large part for its academic strength and, importantly, its friendly and supportive community.


What do you remember about your first day at Univ?

I remember moving into Helen’s Court behind the College library, and meeting several fellow international students living on my staircase. We still keep in touch! I had come from Houston, Texas, which is a relatively young city, and Univ’s beautiful old quads and buildings left an indelible impression on me.


Was there anyone at Univ who really inspired you?

Professor John Finnis, with whom I studied jurisprudence, and Lord and Lady Butler, for the many talks and concerts they organised and hosted in the Master’s Lodgings.


Do you have one outstanding memory?

Many. Small tutorials with senior academics and practitioners as a very green undergraduate certainly left many strong impressions. I also appreciated the many opportunities for music, from jazz at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to one term I largely spent touring Oxfordshire with a amateur ensemble performing ‘La Traviata.’   Despite the stress of Finals, I also fondly remember living and studying in Stavertonia.


How do you think Univ shaped you?

By requiring me to rigorously research, structure, and defend my arguments, and by valuing openness to competing ideas and arguments should they prove to be better. I owe my oral and written advocacy skills to studying law at Univ, and my career to taking public international law while at Univ.


Did you know what you wanted to do after Univ?

No! Before Univ, I was torn between studying Law and International Relations.  Towards the end of my BA, I discovered international arbitration through studying international law with Professor Dan Sarooshi and through friends at Oxford. After Univ, I pursued an internship in Paris to test the waters, and enjoyed the field. International arbitration straddles the boundary between law and international relations, so I never actually committed to one field over the other! My day-to-day work focuses on thorny issues of international law, and most disputes involve states or state-owned companies, lending it a diplomatic character.


How important do you think a project like the Young Univ Gallery is?

It is important to highlight the diverse range of careers for which Univ prepares its undergraduates. The range illustrates the strength and importance of a Univ education.


How did it feel to be selected to take part in it?

I was surprised and honoured. While Univ makes an excellent effort to organise local events for US-based alumni, I appreciated the opportunity for closer engagement with College through taking part in this project.